Making The Right Choice: Finding A Responsible Breeder For A Purebred Puppy

By The Canadian Kennel Club

When you have narrowed your breed choices to a short list and are about to move to the next and most important step – the actual purchase of the dog – it is imperative that you locate a reputable breeder.

As with any expensive purchase, buying a purebred puppy requires as much consideration as possible. You must consider the care, attention, exercise required, and the costs of feeding and medical care. View different kennels before you decide on a puppy; try to gird your heart against the first pair of appealing brown eyes.

The condition of the dogs in the kennel (and the kennel itself) will be an indication of the quality of the breeder. If the sire and dam are on the premises, ask to see them and their registration certificates. Make sure they are registered, and ask for their litter registration number. It is a Federal Offence under the Animal Pedigree Act for any dog to be sold as purebred without the furnishing of a certificate of registration. It is also an offence to sell as purebred a dog not eligible for registration. The breeder of the dog is fully responsible for it’s registration with no extra cost to the purchaser. There have been cases of as much as $250.00 added to the purchase price for a registration fee. Any extra charge for registration is also illegal.

If you are buying a purebred dog, insist on its papers. You will need them for showing or selling the dog. These papers are also your guarantee that the dog is purebred. However, you should allow the breeder a reasonable time to obtain the papers for you, approximately six months. The dog should also be identified by microchip or tattoo.

You should be aware of any hereditary defects that may take some time to surface in some breeds. A reputable breeder will give a guarantee against such an occurrence. Some defects cannot be spotted at an early age; therefore a replacement should be guaranteed. Enquire whether the dam or sire has exhibited any hereditary defects. This is the best way of avoiding the heartbreak of having a dog that has been with the family for some time develop unanticipated and serious health problems.

Regarding the transaction, you should obtain a written receipt (even if payment is made by cheque) and a copy of any agreement entered into signed at the time of sale. You should also have a copy of the litter registration, or at the very least, the litter registration number.

Purebred dogs are sold through various channels but the only source recommended by the Canadian Kennel Club is knowledgeable breeders who specialize in your breed of choice. Visit a number of breeders and compare the dogs, the facilities and the breeders. Make your final purchase from someone you are comfortable with and who you feel you can trust beyond the day of purchase to be as concerned about your puppy’s future as you are.

To assist you in selecting your breeder we strongly recommend that you follow the “Golden Rules” for purchasing a purebred dog. No responsible breeder should have difficulty complying with the following so use them as your yardstick in finding the right breeder with the right dog.

Rule #1 – Always Visit The Kennel

Always visit the kennel before buying the dog. Let your eyes, ears and nose be the judge. Make certain that you are allowed full access to the kennel, that conditions are clean, the dogs have ample kennel space and look healthy and well cared for in every respect. A reputable breeder will not only welcome a visit to their kennels but they will insist upon it. They will also want to know about your family, your lifestyle and where the dog will be living. In doing so they aren’t being intrusive, but instead it is a sign they care about the placement and future of their dogs. During the interview process a good breeder should discuss any particular needs or problems associated with the breed. If they do not bring this up, you should ask. Knowing negatives is as important as knowing positives.

Warning Signs:

  • The breeder suggests that a visit to their kennel is not essential.
  • The breeder offers to sell the puppy sight unseen.
  • If upon visiting a kennel you are restricted from full access.
  • If upon visiting the kennel your eyes, ears and nose are sending bad signals. Any of these signs, walk away and don’t come back.

Rule #2 – Make certain the mother is on the premises and available to see

This is an absolute must! You should also ask if it is possible to see the sire (father) and if this is not possible then ask why this is the case. It may be that the sire lives with another breeder and was used for stud purposes only. In such cases, the sire may not be on the premises at the time. The dogs may also be the product of artificial insemination. Both are acceptable reasons for the sire not being present. A reputable breeder will also have in their possession an official Canadian Kennel Club pedigree that describes the lineage of the puppy. The pedigree should include not only the name and registration numbers of the parents but the grandparents and great-grandparents as well.

Warning Signs:

  • The breeder does not have the dam on the premises or have the pedigrees available. No reputable breeder would have puppies on the premises without the dam being there and pedigrees must be available.
  • If the breeder refers to the CKC, confirm that they mean The Canadian Kennel Club because a number of unofficial registries are also using these initials, such as the “Continental Kennel Club”
  • No dam, no pedigrees, no deal.

Rule #3 – Ask to see health certificates and records of visits to the vet

This is a very important component of buying a purebred dog. Some breeds of purebred dogs have a history of inherited health disorders. Reputable breeders will have established a breeding program that dramatically reduces the possibility of such disorders appearing in their dogs. Therefore, ask to see the formal health clearances for both the dam and the sire. The fact that the sire may not be on the premises is irrelevant. The breeder should have copies of such clearances on file. You should also ask to see the veterinary records of the puppy. Good breeders ensure that the parents have health clearances before breeding them. No credible breeder would sell their puppies without an initial visit to the veterinarian for shots and a general check-up.

Warning Signs:

  • The breeder advises that health records are not available or that the health records will be sent with the certificate of registration.
  • The breeder advises that the breed does not have any health problems.
  • The breeder advises that it is your responsibility to take the puppy to the veterinarian after you purchase it.

Rule #4 – Get a signed bill of sale stating the puppy is being sold as purebred

Your bill of sale is a significant part of your legal protection. It should be dated and signed by the breeder and it should include, at the very least, a verification that the dog is purebred, the breed of the dog, your name and the name of the breeder, the identification number of the dog (see Rule #6 below), a verification that you will be provided with registration papers (see Rule #7 below) and the total price of the dog, including all costs of registration. Never pay for a purebred dog, in whole or in part, without first being provided with a proper bill of sale containing all of the above.

Warning Signs:

  • The breeder asks for a deposit or full payment with the promise that a bill of sale will be sent to you in due course. A bill of sale is a must. There are no excuses.

Rule #5 – Insist upon being provided with a written guarantee

The CKC believes that a purchaser of a purebred dog in Canada should expect to obtain a healthy dog, both physically and mentally. It is the nature of genetics, however, that a dog may be clear of problems for five generations but problems may still crop up in the sixth. A guarantee covers what would be the recompense in the case of a problem, not an assurance that a problem will never occur. Reputable breeders will provide a detailed guarantee for the dogs they sell and reputable breeders will not hesitate to uphold their guarantee. Never buy a dog without a written guarantee and understand the intent behind it. No guarantee, no purchase.

Warning Signs:

  • The breeder advises that the guarantee will be sent to you with the registration certificate.
  • The breeder suggests that he or she cannot guarantee the health of a living creature. (A breeder cannot guarantee that a dog will never get sick but they can guarantee that it is clear of any genetic problems).

Rule #6 – Confirm that the dog has been permanently and uniquely identified

If the dog is purebred it must be identified prior to leaving the breeder’s premises in order for it to be eligible to be registered with CKC. This is the law. It is the responsibility of the breeder to pay for the identification. Two forms of identification are acceptable: a Canadian Standard microchip transponder or a tattoo. A tattoo should be easily read with the naked eye. If the dog has been microchipped, the breeder must have an electronic scanner in his or her possession with which the dog can be scanned. Ask the breeder to scan the dog to confirm that the microchip identification is in place and that the number matches that which is indicated on the bill of sale. Failing this, he should have a veterinarian’s certificate verifying the presence of the microchip in the dog.

Warning Signs:

  • The breeder tells you that identifying the dog is your responsibility.
  • The breeder tells you that the microchip has been implanted in the dog but is unable to scan it or provide a veterinarian’s certificate stating the designated microchip is present in the dog. Leave. You are not dealing with a reputable breeder.

Rule #7 – Confirm CKC registration of the parents, the litter and the puppy you are about to purchase

This is not a matter of choice – this is the law in Canada, as required under the Animal Pedigree Act. Any breeder selling a dog as purebred must register the dog and provide the new owner with the registration certificate within six months of the date of sale. In order for the puppy to be registered, the dog’s parents and the emanating litter must also be registered. A reputable breeder will be more than willing to provide this information. If you have any doubts, ask the breeder for a copy of the Certificate of Registration of Litter previously issued by CKC. It is the responsibility of the breeder to forward the application papers to CKC and pay for the initial registration and transfer of the dog into your name. The cost to a member breeder is approximately $25.00. Upon receiving the breeder’s applications, it takes CKC about 10 days to process the applications and send the certificate of registration back to the breeder. The breeder must then send the certificate to you, as the new guardian of the puppy. Obtaining official papers is the responsibility of the seller, not the buyer. Don’t accept the responsibility of sending in the applications or paying for them.

Warning Signs:

  • The breeder hands you the registration application papers and tells you to send them in with the required fees.
  • The breeder offers you the purebred dog at one price with papers and at another price without papers.

Rule #8 – We recommend that you determine if the breeder is a member of CKC

Many reputable breeders in Canada are members of The Canadian Kennel Club. All CKC members are obligated to adhere to CKC policies and procedures, the CKC Code of Ethics and the Code of Practice For CKC Member Breeders – non-members are not! If the breeder is not a member of CKC, then it is worthwhile asking why this is the case. Listen carefully to the answer and make your own judgments.

Warning Signs:

  • The breeder tells you there is no advantage to belonging to CKC.
  • The breeder tells you that he or she did belong to CKC but decided to give up their membership. Be aware that there are a number of advantages to belonging to CKC and for a breeder – one of those advantages is 50% off all registration fees. They may not belong to CKC for a very good reason or, it may be a bad reason. If any of these signs appear then it is worth a call to the CKC Client Services Department just to check.